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Tourism slump in Goa a key issue in LS polls: Stakeholders

Tourism slump in Goa a key issue in LS polls: Stakeholders
April 08
16:28 2019

PANAJI: Tourism stakeholders in Goa feel poor management of the key revenue generating sector in the state will be one of the main issues in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

However, tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar refuted the claim and said the state government was working to resolve all problems being faced by the industry.

In February, Ajgaonkar, while talking to industry stakeholders, said there was a drop in tourist arrivals in the state, though he did not mention any statistics.

As per the tourism department’s figures of last year, Goa annually attracts around six million tourists, including domestic and foreign travellers.

“There has been around 40 per cent drop in foreign tourists in Goa, which is tremendous,” claimed Savio Messiah, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, an apex body of tour operators in the state.

He said while there were no specific proper figures available about domestic tourists, “there was definitely a drop in occupancy in hotels in the state”.

Hotels in Goa were right now in business only due to MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism, he said, adding that their woes will certainly be one of the issues during the Lok Sabha polls.

Echoing a similar view, Goa’s Traditional Shack Owners Association president Manuel Cardoso said Ajgaonkar “failed” to check the drop in number of visitors to the state.

Beach shacks are one of the major attractions for tourists in the coastal state.

The “failure” to boost the tourism sector and curb garbage menace on beaches were going to be the important issues in the polls, Cardoso said.

“The Centre has not done much for the growth of Goa’s tourism industry. When Lok Sabha poll candidates come asking for votes this time, we want an assurance about a solution to our problems. The candidate who can provide a solution to these issues will get the votes,” he said.

North Goa Taxi Owners’ Association general secretary Vinayak Nanoskar said tourism was never on the agenda during elections in the past.

“But this time, it has become a poll issue. People are worried about the tourism industry,” he said.

Nanoskar, who is opposing the entry of cab aggregators like Ola and Uber in Goa, claimed that allowing “outsiders” will cripple the state’s traditional taxi business.

“The tourism industry stakeholders, including taxi operators, have been petitioning lawmakers at the Centre but none of them have been able to provide a solution to our problems,” he said.

However, Ajogankar said the BJP-led state government was taking all possible steps to address the problems faced by the tourism industry.

“I don’t think that it will be a poll issue. We are working to address all the issues,” he said.

Lok Sabha elections to two seats in Goa will be held on April 23 and the results will be declared on May 23. PTI

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